Alamo Colleges Barely Passed Its Own Accountability Test
Published: April 16, 2014
The homework assignment additionally requested evidence of faculty approval and indication institutional policies were followed. It notes the “strong faculty opposition” and asked the College to address how it places faculty with primary responsibility for approving curriculum. Letters were subsequently sent to the three other accredited colleges. (Northeast Lakeview has yet to receive accreditation.)
Claunch tells the Current that even after Leslie’s reversal, Northwest Vista must still respond to the request. In the process of writing the letter to the accreditation commission, Claunch has revised the first draft as a result of the news. The problem of faculty involvement will not be as pronounced as it was before.
“Even though it was done outside of normal channels, I believe faculty voices ultimately got heard and I think that’s good,” says Claunch.
She expressed “relief” at having more time to research the course and more acutely consider its worth. For her, the whole ordeal is an opportunity to rebuild.
“Hopefully it will allow us to move forward in a collaborative way—this has the potential to make us stronger,” she said.
But when asked if she believes confidence in Leslie’s decision-making had diminished as a result of the controversy, Claunch replies guardedly: “I think that the facts of what happened following the decision pretty much speak for themselves.”
In the end, it appears that while the reversal of course quelled immediate concerns, it did little to bolster opponents’ faith in Leslie’s leadership style.
As Hinkely bluntly puts it, “Confidence in Bruce Leslie is at an all-time low.”
As the dust settles, some faculty continue to wonder about a potential profit motive, asking which parties stand to benefit most from the alliance.
The for-profit Franklin Covey has found a partner in Pearson Education, regarded as Texas’ main public school textbook and testing provider. In 2010, the two publicly traded corporations agreed to a publishing deal to create The 7 Habits of Highly Effective College Students, as a college textbook and multimedia courseware. Now, a faculty group wants more details on the relationship between the district, Franklin Covey and Pearson.
An attorney with the Alamo Community College District Faculty Legal Association filed an open records act request on behalf the organization to uncover more information about the price tag behind Franklin Covey textbook material. So far, the district has spent some $3.5 million on training for staff, The Ranger reported. A five-day training and certification session for the 7 Habits lesson costs $2,500 for each employee, according to the school’s contract with Covey. The faculty legal group is also seeking to find out if the materials the district paid to develop will be sold to other colleges.
“We’re basically privatizing our curriculum and private interests are deciding what we’re doing in the classroom,” Gerald Busald, math professor and president of the legal association tells the Current. “We would like to know exactly what is driving these decisions; is it financial?”
A small glimmer of Leslie’s attitude toward the for-profit sector arises in a 2013 blog for the Huffington Post. Leslie delivers what is at first a thoughtful ode to his students. An excerpt reads, “[students] are not just revenues or FTEs; they are human beings with feelings like our own.” But the piece then takes a nuanced turn, as Leslie confesses to pressures from outside stakeholders, writing, “[p]ublic higher education must operate as a business and it is time to accept the responsibility to lead our colleges effectively, efficiently and relevantly. Acknowledging this requires us to operate like every successful business: to focus on our customers, internal and external.”
He ends by writing, “[t]rust must be earned and educators at all levels must appreciate our collective responsibility to rise above our internal political issues and focus all our efforts on student success.”
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